Draw Your Notes: Intro to Visual Note-Taking | Ink Factory Studio | Skillshare

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Draw Your Notes: Intro to Visual Note-Taking

teacher avatar Ink Factory Studio, Think Like Ink

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Project


    • 3.

      Creating Visual Hierarchy


    • 4.

      Assigning Tools


    • 5.

      Getting Started


    • 6.

      Picking Colors


    • 7.

      Handwriting and Lettering


    • 8.

      Choosing Compositions


    • 9.

      Creating Your Visual Language


    • 10.

      Active Listening


    • 11.

      Ways to Practice and Improve


    • 12.



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About This Class

Are you a visual learner? Are your notes full of little doodles? Can't pay attention in meetings or classes without a pen in your hand?

Then this beginner’s class on visual note-taking is for you! Visual note-taking skills will give you the power to implement visual communication skills in your life, school, or work. 

In this class, you will learn the basics of visual note-taking, which is the skill of organizing and capturing information through hand-drawn images and text in real-time.




Ink Factory and its artists have spent many years practicing the art of visual note-taking and have seen how beneficial it can be for you and the people around you.

You’ll learn tips and tricks we use every day and how you can apply our best practices to the content in your own life in a way that makes the most sense for you.

By the end of the class, you will be able to connect more thoughtfully with various types of information and will have discovered a universal way to communicate

You will follow us behind the scenes as we show you:

  • Why you should take visual notes
  • How to create a visual hierarchy of content
  • How to utilize various tools most successfully and our tried and true recommendation
  • How to approach a blank canvas and  eliminate any anxiety around your visual notes
  • How to choose the right colors
  • Tips and tricks for fast and legible handwriting and lettering 
  • How to choose and create a composition for your visual notes
  • How to listen, filter, and synthesize content in real-time
  • How to find your unique visual language
  • How to continuously improve by recognizing what works well and what doesn’t
  • How to digitize and share your visual notes




Whether you’re an artist, working professional, student, teacher, or just a visual thinker, this class is a great place to start! We designed this course with accessible materials in mind and will provide our recommendations, but as long as you have something to draw on and draw with then you will be able to participate.

These lessons are also applicable for those with any level of drawing skill because we’re of the mindset that the actual act of drawing is more important than the end result.

Once you complete this course, you can also check out our course on developing your drawing skills - Drawing for Beginners Using Simple Shapes and Techniques. This will kickstart your skills in being able to draw almost anything using simple shapes.

What are you waiting for!? Get started on this visual thinking journey with us!

Whatever your takeaways are from this class, we’re excited to hear about them and we can’t wait to see what you create.

The Ink Factory Team
We Talk. You Draw. It’s Awesome!

Meet Your Teacher

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Ink Factory Studio

Think Like Ink


Ink Factory Studio is a team of visual thinkers specializing in visual note-taking. That means we listen and draw visual summaries of just about any content–live as we listen along. 



Visual notes are drawings created in real-time using simple words and pictures, virtually or in-person. Having a visual note-taker at your event means that while you’re talking, we’re drawing. The result is a visual summarizing the key takeaways of your discussion. And guess what? YOU can do it too!


Use visual note-taking skills at work, in a class, or just in your everyday life!



Learning visual note-taking has so many benefits:

Strengthen your verbal & visual communication s... See full profile

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1. Intro: Are you a visual learner? Have you ever wondered why you'd learn better while doodling or drawing? Why seeing things laid out visually just makes more sense? Then this beginner visual note-taking class is for you. Hi, I'm Wallis. I'm Sarah. We are two of the artists here at Ink Factory and we want to share our learnings with you. Ink Factory is a creative agency in Chicago that specializes in visual experiences that inspire and engage. Co-founders, Ryan, Dusty, and Lindsay, founded Ink Factory back in 2011 after combining their diverse backgrounds and experiences. Since then we've created visual experiences for anywhere from Fortune 100 companies to non-profits and really helps them get their message out there by using visual notes. Visual notes or drawings created live using simple words and pictures. Since people are naturally visual learners, visual notes can help us understand more information more easily. In this hour-long class, we will teach you the basics of visual note-taking. We're going to talk about the rich history of the visual language and show you ways that you can implement different techniques and master them to have more thoughtful, more organized notes. You'll follow us behind the scenes as we show you how to create your first visual notes. You'll learn the fundamentals of organizing ideas visually, how to recognize the different elements of design, how to capture content live, how to create your own visual library, and so much more. Ink Factory and its indi-visuals have spent many years practicing this and we found that it's really beneficial for all people. We hope that you'll be able to take our tips and tricks and find a way that this content will make the most sense to you and help you to process information better. By the end, you'll have found a new way of universal communication through visual notes. Whether you're an artist, working professional, student, teacher, or just a visual thinker, this class is a great place to start. As long as you have something to draw on and draw with, then you'll be able to participate. We'll also provide you with a list of our favorite tools. What are you waiting for? Get started on this awesome visual thinking journey with us. Whatever your takeaways are from this class, we're so excited to hear about them and we can't wait to see what you create. We talk. You draw. It's awesome. 2. Your Project: For the class project, you'll be creating a full live visual note. Throughout the course, there's going to be small exercises that we're going to be giving you to help you practice these skills along the way as well. By combining all the skills in the videos, you'll be able to start your visual note-taking journey. We recommend following the lessons as they're listed in the order because each skill is built upon as we go. You will see us working on an example projects throughout the videos. We want to show this so that you can see how the skills can be applied to actually taking live visual notes. The talk that we chose to do is called Unwavering Focus by Dandapani. We will include a link in the resources so that, if you want to try the same one as us, you'll be able to. We will also be showing some of our own personal visual note-taking examples along the way as inspiration, and pointing out how they relate to our content and the skills that we've taught you along the way. After completing each of the lessons, this is when you'll move on to creating your first live visual notes. The content that you've decided to capture will be up to you, but we do recommend a podcast speech, or a discussion about an hour long. An example would be a podcast about a topic that interests you, or maybe even an inspiring speech from a conference that you're attending. Whichever topic you decide, we will set you up for success by taking you through some helpful exercises, tips and tricks, our best practices, and so much more. The goal is that by the end of this, you will have your own personal style and visual language that's best suited to you. Don't forget to upload your projects to the project gallery so that we can provide some helpful critique to your visual notes. Next up, we have visual hierarchy. 3. Creating Visual Hierarchy: Visual hierarchy. This is one of the most important elements of visual note-taking because it's what everything else we'll relate back to, and so it's a great place for us to start. What is visual hierarchy? It's a way that you use visuals to signify the level of importance of information on a page. A simple way of looking at it is that it could be something like an outline for a paper, list of notes where you're using bulleted points or indentation to showcase to your brain what's most important. That is a form of visual hierarchy. In visual note-taking, we can use things like scale, contrast, saturation, color, space, all different things to help guide your eye along the page to be able to understand the level of importance of each piece of information. Now we're going to break it down into all of the main points. One way to show visual hierarchy is with scale. The larger something appears on a page, the more importance it has. Your eye lands on larger items first. Another way is by using contrast. The higher the contrast, the more important. White against black is the highest level of contrast that there is, but this also applies to dark colors against light colors. The higher the contrast, the more the information literally pops out of the page and catches your eye. That also leads us into using color in visual hierarchy. Contrast and color can be used together to help signify higher levels of importance. Color can also be used on its own as a color of text or an image, or the color highlighting text or an image. For example, one color can be used for only the main points and by combining that with scale, it reinforces the level of importance. Totally, and that leads us to the most important part which is setting patterns. Your brain picks up on patterns very quickly, so it's important to set patterns and to stick with them throughout a visual note. This means you can choose to combine various elements of visual hierarchy together, but you have to commit to the same combination in the whole drawing. You can see here that the artist chose to make all of the large points surrounded by one color in high contrast and in large scale. All of the supporting points are smaller in scale in another color and that is carried throughout the drawing. To review, these are the four main elements of visual hierarchy. Scale, contrast, color, and patterns. We'll keep referring back to visual hierarchy throughout the lessons, but this is a great place to start. Yeah. Next up, let's take a look at the different tools that you can use for visual note-taking. 4. Assigning Tools: Using the right tools and knowing how to choose them is an important step in taking visual notes. We're going to talk about tools that we recommend using. Welcome to the best tools for analog visual note-taking or notes taken on a physical surface. But we'll also briefly touch on digital tools in case that's something that you would like to give a try. We'll start with some basic tips on choosing the right tools for the right job, whether working digitally or on analog notes, it is important that you're choosing the right size tools for the size of Canvas that you're working on. The first tool we want to touch on is what you will be drawing on, so that could be a whiteboard, or an iPad, or even a little posted. But we'll talk more about that a little later. Right now what you need to know is that you want to pick your Canvas first because the size of it is going to determine the rest of your tools. If you're working on something like a whiteboard which is bigger, you're going to want to choose bigger markers. But if you're working on a smaller scale, the same rules will also apply, and you'll want to use smaller markers and brushes or whatever else you choose. Yeah. Let's get more specific on the types of tools that you'll use when taking analog visual notes. The first tools we'd like to call out are a pencil and an eraser. These seems simple, but they're essential when you're first starting out with visual note-taking. Next up, you'll want to grab your different markers with various nibs and sizes. Our recommendations are having both chisel and bullet tip markers, and the sizes chosen should correlate to your Canvas choice. For the example project that we've created in the sketchbook, what we've done is chosen a few brush tip colors, a chisel tip for the title, and a small fine bullet tip, or a flare pen for the supporting points. If you do decide to take digital visual notes and we recommend that you use a program that you are already comfortable with, because we won't be covering any in this class. But we do use procreate on an iPad with an Apple pencil, and there are great tutorials on Skillshare. Main thing to remember if you're using a digital Canvas is that you want to still match the tool to the Canvas size. We typically work in a 16-9 for our Canvases, and then we choose brushes that work accordingly with the size. The key points for that are to choose one small, one medium, and one large, and just having three brushes set up in small, medium, and large is going to help you to reinforce the visual hierarchy while you're taking the notes. It's also important to test your tools before you start using them, so you can make sure that the size and the type of brush that you've chosen are something that you're comfortable using, and they come out looking how you want them to. In general, we always like to recommend that less is more and more simple is always better. With digital, we would start off by choosing a small chisel tipped brush that we will use for our supporting points and outlines, and then we will choose a medium chisel tip brush that we will use for our more main points, and then a larger brush for coloring things in. They all have a pretty clean finish that when you're writing small nothing is to fuzzy, and we'd like to choose tools that mimic the analog tools or physical tools we use in real life. In this lesson, we discussed choosing the right tool for the right size Canvas. The smaller Canvas, the smaller the size of the tools that you will use for visual note-taking. We just went over selecting digital and analog tools from chisel tips, bullet tips, pencil, when and why to use them, and how to fix mistakes. When it comes down to it, visual notes are possible with any tools that you have available to you. But we hope by using the tips and tricks that we've given you, you'll be able to make the tools work for you and help you get through the rest of the exercises in this class. Yeah. Grab those tools and in the next lesson we'll get started on visual note-taking. 5. Getting Started: In this video we'll be discussing different ways that you can get started with visual notes by doing some warm-up exercises and also by starting with an interesting title for your talk. That's right. We always recommend starting out with some warm-up exercises, because just like athletes visual note takers need to warm-up the muscles in our hands and in our brains, so we can take some fast-paced notes. We'll be talking through how to do a couple of different warm-up exercises and we recommend doing at least one of them once this video is done, but if you want to do all of them you're welcome to do that as well. The first one to get started is pretty simple. It's just drawing some circles and lines with the different tools that you'll be using to take your visual notes. This is really helpful because it shows you what type of marks each of the different tools you're using are going to make. Again, what size those tools are going to be depending on the type and size of the canvas that you're using. Also, it helps get your mind connected to your hand once you start drawing. Yeah. Then next up, we like to move on to something we call a Circle, Square exercise. It's super original. What you're going to do is draw three circles on a piece of paper and then set a timer for a minute and a half. In that minute and a half you want to turn all of those circles into something, and then after that you want to do the same thing but with squares. The reason why this exercise is really important is it helps you get over any hesitation of whether or not you can draw something because you'll be able to create three or six if you do both the circles and squares new drawings just out of nowhere within three minutes total. Another warm-up we do especially when we're client-facing, is drawing all of the titles ahead of time. Yeah. It's super helpful to draw the titles ahead of time because that also gets your mind used to drawing letters and to creating something on a board, so that you get comfortable with the tools and materials that you're using. This is something that we like to do ahead of time as well, because it relates back to visual hierarchy. The titles are usually the largest most pronounced thing on a page, and so if we get started with that and spend a little bit more time developing it and making it look really interesting and really catching the eye first thing when you look at the board, that helps to just set the visual hierarchy from the start before even capturing the notes. Yeah. It helps when choosing colors. We like to use the colors we're going to use in our visual notes in the title as well, that way it helps solidify and remind ourselves where the color palette is even if we might forget. Totally. Another thing that titles are really great for practicing and incorporating is something that we call an anchor image. Now an anchor image is something that is a larger image on the page and you might spend a little bit more time drawing. Maybe it's a little bit more detailed than the other images or icons we're going to touch on later in this class, but an anchor image is a way to help reinforce the visual hierarchy to show that this is part of the title. It can be something that you're looking at your phone for reference to draw. It's just something that really ties all the information together on this board and is a great way to continue practicing and getting your mind in the drawings zone for when you're going to be drawing faster as you go through your visual notes. In the next lesson we will be covering color, and then later on in class we'll be going over handwriting and drawing, so you don't have to worry too much about your title is just yet. We just wanted to give you a little bit of a touch point so that you could see what could be applied to your future visual notes. In the meantime, go ahead and choose one or all of the warm-ups that we gave you and go ahead and start getting ready for visual note-taking. Just for a reminder, those warm-ups were drawing lines and circles with your different tools so you can get a feel for them and warm-up your hand a little bit or the circle square exercise. If you do, do the circle square exercise, then please put a picture of what you created in the project gallery because we get a lot of inspiration by seeing what everybody has been able to create and it's always something new and different. Good luck with the warm-ups, and we'll see you in the colors lesson next. 6. Picking Colors: In this lesson, we'll be talking about color, the importance of it, how you can use it to help with visual hierarchy, how to choose your colors before starting on your visual note-taking journey. At the end of this lesson, there's going to be an exercise available for download. Color is a very easy and helpful way to start incorporating and reinforcing visual hierarchy. You can even use just color with some written notes and that in itself will help to reinforce what is more important on the page and what is less important. Let's get started with visual hierarchy because, as you learned in that section, the use of color and contrast are great tools. The higher the contrast, the more something stands out on the page. You can use darker colors to be more of the important points, making sure that they stand out first on the page. Then you can use lighter colors for less important points, making sure that they come second or later for your eye to follow. This can be true for either using those colors for writing the text or it can be the color behind the text that's written. Another way that color can help with visual hierarchy is to the use of saturation. A color that has a higher saturation will be more bold and stand out, whereas a color with low saturation will be a little bit muted. An example would be neon colors are high saturations. They jump out at you. More pastel colors are on the dollar side and can be muted on the board. That's important to keep in mind when choosing your colors because you'll want to put your main points in the higher saturation so that way it stands out and gets seen by the eye first. You'll also notice that in all of the examples shown there are patterns. Patterns are another way to reinforce visual hierarchy. Here are a few ways you can use color to create patterns. You can create patterns by using the same color for the same level of importance. For example, if you choose to use red to write a main point, then you would continue to use red for the rest of the points that have the same level of importance. Another way to create patterns with colors is by using one color for each category of information. Foe example, if you're trying to capture live visual notes and there's multiple speakers like one after the other, each talk can be captured in the same color. That way, the difference in color is actually separating the information effectively. Now that you see how important it is and what colors you choose, how do you even go about choosing them? Without getting too much into color theory, we would like to give you some tips and tricks on how we choose colors for visual note-taking. Our basic structure for choosing different colors to use is by having one dark color, one medium color, and one light color, and that has to do with both the saturation of the color and the contrast level of that color. What we recommend when you're just getting started with visual notes is by choosing your darkest color to be black, your medium or light color to be gray, and then filling in either the medium or light color that's still left with a color of your choice. That's right, just using one color in your first visual notes. We know oftentimes it can be way more exciting to use a bunch of colors, but with visual note-taking usually less is more. Because color is a tool, it has a purpose. The more you can limit your colors, then the more intentional and cohesive your notes will seem at the end. Here in factory, we also use specific set of markers. It naturally limits all of our color palettes. Then when we work digitally, we will make our color palette ahead of time and then work from that. Right now we recommend creating 3-4 color palettes so that you can go ahead and start practicing colors. I would recommend doing at least one of them as just the black, gray, and one color. Then the rest of them, I would say a maximum of three colors that you'd be using and even that's pushing it. But create 3-4 of your own palettes that you can refer to during future exercises in this class. If you want to go back in this video and take a look at some of our examples that we've shown, that can be a good way to get some inspiration at least to start your own color palettes. As a reminder, we have a downloadable exercise for you, but up next we have handwriting and lettering techniques. 7. Handwriting and Lettering: Now we're going to dive into handwriting and lettering. You will be learning how that applies to visual hierarchy, the difference between the two and how to build and reinforce those skills along the way. What is the difference between handwriting and lettering? Well, handwriting is what you're going to be using for most of the texts in your visual notes. It's for supporting points and details. Then lettering is what you're going to be used for the titles or for your main points. You can think of it as your handwriting is what you would make your grocery lists out to be. But then the lettering will be like maybe the cover of a birthday card or wedding invitation or in a logo. Well, let's look at some examples of handwriting versus lettering. Anything that you see here that is written in plain black text is the artist's clean and legible handwriting and these main points, as well as a few key call outs and especially the titles or lettering. To reinforce visual hierarchy, once again, you would use more elaborate hand lettering for the title and aboard and for main points in your visual notes, you would use hand writing for anything else that is supporting or any details. Let's talk about some tips and ways to practice clean and legible handwriting. It's very important to have legible handwriting because the whole point of visual note-taking is to capture information in a helpful way. But if you can't read your own handwriting, it isn't that helpful. To practice your handwriting, you can write this sentence as many times as you would like. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. It includes all of the letters of the alphabet written in a way that is more similar to how you would write sentences instead of just writing the alphabet out. While you're practicing this sentence, here are some helpful tips, write only an uppercase letters, which might feel a little bit counter-intuitive to some of you, but it's actually easier to read and with practice, you can become faster at writing in that way. You also want to make sure to leave space between each letter that you write. When the letters start to touch it run together, it's very easy to start to get messy. It is also helpful to think about each letter as if you were drawing it rather than writing it. We will talk about that more with lettering. But for your handwriting, think about a letter like a small icon you are drawing and give it the same type of attention and time to draw. You can practice using lined paper if you have access to it. If not, you can use another sheet of paper to create a straight line that you tried to write each letter and make sure that the bottom of each letter touches the line you're writing them. This will help keep the letters organized. You can go ahead and pause the video now if you'd like and write this sentence at least five times. This is a great exercise to do each time you sit down to practice visual notes. Now, we're going to talk a little bit about lettering. Lettering is what we use with our titles or to emphasize certain words within our visual notes. You can think of it as also emphasizing visual hierarchy and the letters are almost images themselves. A great way to get started with lettering is by drawing some block letters. If you already know how to draw some block letters, you can push yourself further by trying to do things like squash or stretch the letters or distort them in some way, even following a path or trying to fit them into an image. But if you're just getting started, here are a few ways to draw block letters. You can start by drawing the letter in pencil and then outlining it with marker, leaving space around each pencil line. You can also draw the letter first and marker going over each line a few times film thickness. Then finish it up by outlining the color with a thinner black pen or marker. Once you master block letters, there are other ways to build your lettering skills. Turning letters into objects or drawings, adding more character into your letters, adding embellishments like shadows and shading, the possibilities are endless, but lettering is most effective when it reinforces the point, feeling or subject that the words are trying to evoke. In this lesson, we covered tips and tricks and practice for clean handwriting. How to draw basic block letters, how to embellish and emphasize lettering, and how you can use lettering to emphasize key points. Now, it'd be a great time to practice a few titles on your own to put lettering to use. We've included a few example titles and phrases that you can try on your own in the assignments Share an image of your practice titles in the project gallery. We'd love to see how you apply your lettering skills. 8. Choosing Compositions: Now let's talk about composition. A composition is a way of intentionally arranging information on a page, doing it in visual notes, in a way that visually creates balanced information, information that's easy to follow, and also a way that will separate information into specific categories which make it easy to connect the dots. In this lesson, we're going to teach you a few different types of compositions and the fundamentals of how they make the content organized. There's three different types of compositions that we like to use for visual note-taking. You can think of these compositions as different templates that you keep in your head, so when you're capturing information, you know where to put it on the page. The composition we use the most is the center and popcorn composition. This means that the title is in the center of the page and the points are captured around the center, scattered around based on the main topic. That's why we call it popcorn. The points pop around page. You can also use just a popcorn composition with the title at the top or the bottom or the side. But we find that the center and popcorn combined often leads to the most balanced booking page when you're just getting started. This is also a great composition to use if you're using visual notes for brainstorming or capturing your own information because it puts the main title in the center of the page and then your thoughts can move around the center. Another type of composition is the pillars. This one is great to use if you know the information presented is separated into clearly defined categories. It also works when listening to presentations if there are multiple separate speakers talking about the same subject. Each section can be separated by space and color. That often helps reinforce the use of this composition as well. The last composition we use is the timeline. This one works especially well if there's a clear chronological order of information that's being presented, like the history of a topic, an action plan for a subject, or a step-by-step process. Sometimes this composition can even be useful when combined with other compositions, for example, if you're using the center and popcorn composition, but then the speaker starts to tell a chronological story of how they did something. You could incorporate a small timeline as part of the overall notes. That's right. These three compositions are here to get you started and to give you a very clear framework for organizing your information. But as you start to practice and grow more comfortable with these different types of compositions, remember, you can mix and match, combine, and experiment. That brings us to the next part of compositions where you can use some fundamental elements and ways to be able to organize your information within the compositional framework. So just like everything else within this class, this is all going to have to do with visual hierarchy. No matter which composition you use, you should always be thinking about and how to apply visual hierarchy to your visual notes. The title should be the biggest thing on the page and it should be the most embellished and maybe you're even using contrast so that it's the more bold part and/or color to make it stand out. Then the next part about reinforcing the visual hierarchy is connectors and containers. Now, these are things that you've probably seen in a lot of the example we've shown so far. But we're going to really dive into what they are and the importance of using connectors and containers. Anything can be a container because a container is just a place to hold or contain words or phrases. They can also help reinforce visual hierarchy if they're in a certain color or type or size, and they are a great place to start connecting. Which brings us to connectors. Connectors can be anything from a straight line to a dashed line to an arrow, to even using an icon as a connector. The connectors and the containers combined really help to guide the eye across the page and can connect the information so you know what details and what sub-points are going to relate to the main point, and then what main points are going to relate to the title. Here's an example we like to show of a board that does not have any connectors or containers. While the information is organized using certain elements of visual hierarchy, there's also a lot of information and it is a little bit difficult to see what is connected in this popcorn-style composition. But when you add in the connectors and containers, they really make the information more organized, easier to look at, more clearly related. We'll show that a few more times so you can see the difference. A great way to get started with connectors and containers is to practice drawing speech bubbles, thought bubbles, and arrows. These are the most basic ways to get started on incorporating them into your visual notes. Try practicing writing a word first and then drawing a container around it, and vice versa. If you need to refer to some ideas for speech bubbles, you can always search for image examples online and practice until you feel like you can draw them quickly and cleanly. Just like drawing containers is important in visual note-taking, so are icons and visual metaphors. These are all of the images that really help reinforce a point visually and help strengthen a composition by adding variation between texts and images. You'll notice in the Sue example for connectors and containers, there was a giant drawing of the dinosaur, which was a great increment to set the mood and focus of the whole board. There are also a lot of images peppered throughout the composition that helped to emphasize points people are talking about. Icons and visual metaphors are the last piece of the visual puzzle that pull everything together to create visual notes. Now that we understand that there are all ways to organize information on a page by using compositions, by using visual hierarchy connectors and containers, visual metaphors, icons, anchor images, we're going to delve deeper into creating your own visual language in the next video. 9. Creating Your Visual Language: Now let's dive deeper into icons, visual metaphors, and creating your own visual library. By the end of this lesson, we will have you create five icons that are going to be the start of a small visual library that you'll continue to build on and why use visuals when taking visual notes? The brain just processes that content a little bit faster. Yeah. It's important to remember that while you are capturing these visual notes, you're doing it live and so that means you have to be able to draw things pretty quickly in order to get the point across of what you're trying to convey, so it's important to stay simple and because you're staying simple and drawing so quickly, it's probably not going to be the most beautiful, incredible piece of art you've ever created and that's why we call them icons instead of calling them masterpieces. Icons are also visual metaphors, which is basically, using visuals to represent a more complex concept and icons can be a lot of different visual metaphors and vice versa. For example, if I drew a light bulb that could represent ideas, innovation, reminders, thoughts, electricity, light, and many other things. I also can represent the idea of something like innovation with many different visual metaphors or icons. There's basically no right or wrong answers as to what icon goes with what concept or metaphor, and if you draw something that you think might be a little bit out there, you want to make sure that the viewers know what it is that you are trying to represent, all you have to do is label it. Because we are drawing a lot of icons very quickly when we're taking my visual notes, it's super important that we continue to hone and build up this visual language or visual library. We have a bunch of icons that we've practiced over and over, and over again and they live in our heads and we can access them at any time. Because we have done them over and over again, we also can do them super-duper fast and that allows us to capture more content, more quickly and the better you get at this, then the more content you can capture. If you remember from one of the warm-up exercises, the circle square exercise, you can see that a lot of things are just made up of simple shapes. You can draw many things out of just a single shape, but a lot of icons can also be broken down into a combination of simple shapes put together. When developing your visual library, it's very helpful to think of ways to break anything down into those simple shapes and work from there. We want to show you some examples of some of our basic visual library icons that we find ourselves using on a regular basis and we're able to draw them by breaking them down into those shapes. Let's say you want to draw a light bulb. First, I would break it down into a circle and a rectangle, which I can draw with a pencil. Then I would go over and around it to add the curves that make it look more like a light bulb. I can even use this visual library or an image online of a light bulb to guide me. Once I feel comfortable with how it looks, I can go over the outline with ink and there I have a light bulb for my visual library. All that's left is practicing drawing it over and over again until it becomes second nature and I don't have to guide myself and pencil anymore. Now, it'd be a great time to pause the video and pick one of the icons you see on the screen to try to draw it on your own by breaking it down into simple shapes, using the drawing as a reference and then outlining it in ink. Make sure to share your icon or icons in the project tab so we can see what you choose. Once you feel comfortable with drawing a few icons, you can start thinking about ways to combine icons to capture complex ideas. For example let's try to draw the phrase technological innovation. There are many ways to represent technology and innovation, but let's work with one example for each and see how we can combine them. First, you can separate the phrase into the two words and come up with a few icons for each word, then choose one icon for each word that seems like it can be altered or combined with another one. Here, a laptop for technology and a light bulb for innovation were chosen. By using the laptop as a container and putting the light bulb inside of it, it's now a combined interesting icon for a complex idea. These are some basic ways to get your own visual library started and we challenge you to create five icons for your visual library, one of them being a combined icon and then go ahead and label your library and upload it to the projects tab. Next up, we're going to be teaching you active listening, which is how to capture the right information. 10. Active Listening: The last skill that we will cover in this video that ties everything together for visual note-taking is active listening. We're going to teach you how to filter information as you are hearing it, how to synthesize all of this information using texts and images, and how to do all of that in real-time. By the end of this video, you will be ready and set up with all of the skills and tools that you need to start your first real-time visual notes. Active listening is different than how you probably usually listen. With active listening, you're listening to understand, not listening to respond. Instead of listening to what someone is saying and simultaneously trying to think of a response to that, you are just listening to absorb information. How do we do that and how do we know what information to capture without writing down every single word that someone is saying? It starts out with filtering information as we hear it. When capturing live visual notes, we are always trying to hear the key points someone is saying and any supporting information to reiterate that key point. There are a lot of hints and cues that we use while listening to be able to pick out what those most important points are. Oftentimes, the title of the talk can clue you in on what type of information to be aware of since you know the general topic and if you know the agenda of the day, if you happen to be capturing a lot of talks, that can give you some indication on what the overarching themes are. That's not always the case though. Other ways to pick up what's most important are the person's tone of voice, so anything that is verbally accented by being louder or clearly emphasized is probably important. Anything that's repeated three times or more is clearly something important enough to capture. Sometimes the speaker will literally say things like, don't forget this or the most important thing, or the one thing I want you to take away from this is, and these are all very clear cues to capture that information. When someone is telling a story while they are talking, it's usually not very important to capture all the details of the story. What's most important there is to notice it is a story and wait until you can hear what the message is that the story is being told to convey. That would be the most important part to capture. While you are listening and filtering this information in your head, you're also synthesizing it and capturing it on the page. This means that you are summarizing what someone is saying using a visual and or concise language. As you capture this info, you are also pairing like ideas visually. This is where things like anchor images, icons, connectors, and containers come in to help pull all of the information together on the board. While you are doing this, you can also leave yourself little notes on your board and pencil or on a post-it note. Or maybe if you're working digitally on a sketchbook next to you, sometimes we'll even start writing the word with enough letters so that we remember what it is, and then we'll move on and come back to it when we have more time and finish it. While you were taking live visual notes, you will learn to follow the patterns of main points and supporting points and how people tell stories. Oftentimes there will be periods of time throughout the talk that you can spend more time drawing an icon, finishing up something somewhere else on the board, adding connectors and containers, and more. While capturing live notes, you don't really need to do it all chronologically. It's okay and strategic to be moving around the board, leaving things unfinished and finishing other things until you get to the end. Most of the time, we're operating a couple of minutes behind the speaker because of all the filtering and synthesizing that we are doing. But we usually try to cut ourselves off after about three to five minutes that it stays true to real-time capture. To recap, we talked about active listening in this lesson, which is listening to understand not to respond. By filtering information using cues and patterns in speech, and then synthesizing that information onto a board using visuals and text, we are able to tie everything together we have learned so far and start taking some live visual notes. It might seem a bit overwhelming, but practice is honestly the best way to improve your visual note-taking skills. In the next lesson, we'll go over some of our tips and tricks for how to continue practicing. 11. Ways to Practice and Improve: Practicing is the only way you're going to improve your visual note-taking skills. When we first started, we weren't that good and we promise. But we took a lot of time to train and develop these skills and so now we'd like to share with you our tips and tricks for them. Yeah. We highly recommend that while you're practicing you'll find some different podcasts or talk, speeches, tag talks, all kinds of different things that you can listen to as practice examples for taking the visual notes. You can use this project checklist which we also included in the downloads to make sure that each time you practice visual notes, you're setting yourself up for success. When you weren't done with the notes for each talk, you can do a helpful self critique by going back over this list and making sure that you use the right tools for the right jobs. Stuck to a composition, set up a pattern of visual hierarchy, incorporated some icon successfully and captured a good amount of content. It's also very helpful to get some critique and feedback from others while you are practicing and in your learning process of visual notes. One way that you can do this with someone who might not be super familiar with visual notes, is by showing them the notes that you took and then asking them to list the key points from that talk for you, and if they list the key points that you were trying to capture, then you know that you are doing it right. As you continue to learn and grow in your visual note-taking journey, we asked you to share your work with us and others that you can gather some feedback and continue to improve on these skills. We also ask that you look back on all of the other work that you've seen during this class. Maybe you can pick up on some tips and tricks that we didn't mention just based on choices the artists made. Good luck on what is hopefully the first of many visual notes and we'll see you in the final video. 12. Conclusion: Congratulations. You are now ready to complete your first ever visual note and you have all of the things that you need to continue your journey on becoming a natural visual note taker. We've gone through the importance and strategy of using visual hierarchy, helpful tools for the right size Canvas, how to pick color palettes, improve your handwriting and lettering, understand how to use compositions, how to draw and incorporate connectors and containers to organize your notes. Start your own visual library to improve your visual language and how to be an active listener. We also discussed how to move forward with lots and lots of practice and improvement and overall, have fun with the process. Remember, this is basically like learning and mastering a brand new language so it definitely takes time, and the best advise that we can possibly give is just to continue to practice, practice, practice. Then overall, we just want to say thank you for coming along this journey with us and we are so excited to see all the work you've created, and we're so happy to have more visual note takers in the world and we can't wait to see what you create next.